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pageId="iii"Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

City Walls

The map of ‘Jerusalem in New Testament Times’ shows in red the walls as they are thought to have existed in the time of Herod the Great. (It is noteworthy that at the time the traditional site of Golgotha lay outside the city walls.) Marked in blue are those of Herod Agrippa I, who added a third, northern, wall in the time of Claudius (41–54 CE). All these lines are partly conjectural and the northernmost (marked III) is much disputed. Here it has been made to coincide with the existing Ottoman wall for two reasons: (1) the Damascus Gate is known to stand on the foundation of an older gate built in the same style as the Temple enclosure that may have belonged to Agrippa's wall; (2) Josephus states that the northernmost wall passed through the royal caverns. The only caverns which exist on the northern side of the city are the quarry‐caves known as ‘King Solomon's Caves’, and the Ottoman wall passes through the middle of them. Agrippa's wall was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, after the Jewish Revolt, and, except at the Damascus Gate and in some reused stones, nothing can be seen of it today. Somewhere at its north‐west corner stood the tower of Psephinus, an octagonal structure of considerable height.

Much of the oldest masonry visible in the wall line which exists today belongs to a reconstruction dating to the 3rd or 4th century CE, when Jerusalem was still a Roman city and named Aelia Capitolina. This rebuilding began at the tower of Phasael and reached the Damascus gate by a shorter line than that of Agrippa's wall. This is marked in black on the map.

Sonia Halliday Photographs (Jane Taylor)

The unattached double line further to the north shows the line of a massive ‘outwork’ which was thought to be Agrippa's wall. But there are no known royal caverns on or near its path, and the rough materials used conflict with Josephus's description. In addition, numismatic and ceramic evidence suggests a date between 60 and 100 CE, which is too late for Agrippa. A possible explanation for its origin is that it was a defensive fortification hastily erected by Jewish insurgents at the time of the Jewish revolt in 66 CE. The wall marked II is that which Josephus described as beginning at the Gennath Gate and ending at the Antonia Tower. Its line is partly authenticated by some rock scarps and masonry remains, now deeply buried.

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